Virtual taskforce to fight online child abuse

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) launched an international Web site on Wednesday to help provide information on safe Internet use, direct victims of abuse to relevant support groups and provide a safe way for people to report online child abuse.The new Web site backs up a two year old initiative that combines the resources of law enforcement agencies and technology partners from the Australia, UK, Canada and the US.

The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) launched an international Web site on Wednesday to help provide information on safe Internet use, direct victims of abuse to relevant support groups and provide a safe way for people to report online child abuse.

The new Web site backs up a two year old initiative that combines the resources of law enforcement agencies and technology partners from the Australia, UK, Canada and the US. The idea came from the UK's National Crime Squad, which wanted to create an international "one stop shop" for all information about online child protection.

Jim Gamble, deputy director general of the UK's National Crime Squad, and chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, said the international partnership is unique and necessary to help fight online child abusers.

"Child abuse is one of the worst crimes to affect today's society and we in the UK must break away from thinking that we can tackle this issue within our own borders. Internet-users access a worldwide service and we must tackle abuse from a worldwide perspective. Police across the world must work as one on this," said Gamble.

The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), which is one of seven Australian organisations working with the VGT and has been running a hotline for people to report online child abuse, welcomed the new portal.

Jane Marquard, board member of the ABA, said that the VGT will complement the work of domestic law enforcement agencies and make the Internet a safer place for young people.

"Complaints to the ABA's online hotline have doubled since Operation Auxin in September 2004, which was the Australian police operation against Internet child pornography that resulted in hundreds of people being arrested for child sex offences. Operation Auxin has made it clear that agencies must co-operate at national and international levels to combat the problems associated with illegal Internet content -- particularly child pornography," said Marquard.

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